Congolese dandies — known as The Sape — have their own ideas about trans-seasonal fashion: dress to the nines no matter how sweltering the weather.
A resistance movement born in colonial times and flourishing still, The Sape — short for The Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People — was the jumping-off point for Nina Ricci’s energetic resort collection. “I wanted more sun and more dynamism,” said Ricci’s creative director Guillaume Henry, showing a mood board tacked with a variety of images out of Africa, from Sixties portraits by Malick Sidibé, the celebrated Malian photographer who died in April, to the groovy stage costumes Nigerian musician Fela Kuti made for himself in the Seventies. The decade figured prominently in the clothes: in flared pants, big collars, ring pulls on tops and trousers and Donna Summer disco colors, often rendered in velvet — a carryover from Ricci’s fall collection. Africa came through in the spice-market hues, the tiny beading and Dutch wax motifs printed on a papery eel-skin trench or rendered in broderie anglaise for Victorian tops and shift dresses. Evening options were strong, from tube dresses lit with vertical rows of colorful sequins to soigné gowns in liquid satin, slit up the front to reveal fishnet-covered legs and kitten heels.
If Henry’s Ricci collections have so far been tightly wound and borderline severe, often rooted in film noir, this lineup was a more freewheeling effort. He even injected sporty elements, such as chevron stripes worked into delicate lace dresses, or a frilly blouse with the billowing, crackly demeanor of a Windbreaker. The ease was also reflected in the accessories: Guillaume picked up Ricci’s slouchy new suede hobo, dubbed Kuti, and swung it with the nonchalance one would a plastic shopper.